The Shots extended their unbeaten run to four matches with a hard-fought and deserved point against Play-Off-chasing Rovers.
Barry Smith was also able to name an unchanged starting XI for the fourth game, and added Nathan Ralph to the substitute’s bench. Both sides made lively, combative starts, but the first chance was 11 minutes in coming, as Mackreth set-up Lee Vaughan for an angled shot which was deflected over the bar.
Jake Gallagher was forced to make a fine defensive header in front of Maynard as he rose to meet Mackreth’s cross, but then Jake was inches away from connecting with Rhys Browne’s own centre in the Rovers penalty area.
Charlie Walker saw a 22-yard shot saved by Scott Davies on 33 minutes, and soon scooped a shot narrowly over the crossbar as he twisted to reach Dan Walker’s cross which bounced slightly behind him.
Tranmere had started marginally the better but the game’s second quarter belonged to The Shots. Pavey guided a header wide of goal from Lathrope’s free-kick, Charlie Walker skewed a shot past the post under pressure from a defender, and Beckles headed Dan Walker’s cross over the bar,
Jay Harris guided a 25-yard low curling shot just wide in stoppage time, but it was the hosts who went in at the break in better heart. Still, though, Maynard brought a strong save from Phil Smith on 49 minutes, breaking down the left and into the box to fire a shot towards the near-post.
Alfie Pavey glanced in Sean McGinty’s cross on 57 minutes but it was immediately ruled out for offside, before Ralph was was introduced for a fine 30 minute debut. His fellow winger Browne went down under challenge from Davies,as the goalkeeper fumbled McGinty’s swinging cross, but referee Nigel Lugg waved away the penalty appeals. Norwood’s fall inside the box, as he raced onto a high ball and met Smith coming the other way, was met with the same decision.
Rovers substitute Gary Taylor-Fletcher almost made an immediate impact, only for McGinty’s sliding tackle to block his shot, and Hughes, played in by Higdon, shot wastefully off target. Browne rifled a shot into the side-netting at the end of a promising counter-attack, but a draw was always the most likely result.
In the third minute of injury-time – with Browne down after a heavy challenge in the Rovers half – Taylor-Fletcher powered a header just wide from Vaughan’s cross, and even though they finished the game with ten men, The Shots were able to claim another valuable point and take heart from another stoic performance in which they matched exalted opposition.
ATFC: Smith; Alexander, Beckles, Oastler, McGinty; D Walker (Ralph 60), Gallagher, Lathrope, Browne; C Walker (Lafayette 74), Pavey (Stevenson 78). Subs not used: Thomas, Saville